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Newton Sheriff's Office makes arrest in burglaries that have plagued Rocky Plains area

COVINGTON — The Newton County Sheriff’s Office has announced the arrest of a suspect in a string of burglaries that has plagued a business in the Rocky Plains area since the first of the year.

Stolen items reported include everything from auto parts to engine parts to tires, all of which were taken on at least five separate occasions.

Larry Parker, 53, of 95 Eastwood Circle has been charged with theft by taking in connection with the case involving Rocky Plains Automotive Shop on Ga. Highway 162.

“CID got together and created a special operations team that would conduct surveillance on this location and concentrate soly on locating who committed these crimes,” said NCSO Public Information Officer Cortney Morrison.

Morrison said it appeared the burglaries occurred between the hours of 1 to 5 a.m. so the team did surveillance during those hours, both in cars and on foot, and set up cameras to capture images of the burglar.

“They were out conducting physical surveillance on location Monday and saw a white van very slowly riding by the location,” Morrison said, adding it was about 4:30 in the morning and it was unusual to see someone riding slowly in front of a business at that time.

“They conducted a traffic stop and the suspect was only identified as a person of interest at that time,” she said. “However, they compared that van to video surveillance footage and that same color, make and model of van had been constantly driving by the location.”

Tuesday, Parker was asked to come to the sheriff’s office for a voluntarily interview.

“During the interview they were able to obtain information from him and that, along with the evidence collected from their surveillance, gave them enough probable cause to arrest him,” Morrison said.

In other crime news, a 23-year-old man has been charged in connection with a series of reports of public indecency in the Smith Store Road and Oak Hill area.

Morrison said reports began coming in to 911 dispatch between 2 and 4 p.m. Monday that there was a black male exposing himself as vehicles were going by.

“Deputies responded to the area and located a male fitting the description walking on Falcon Ridge Drive,” Morrison said. “When they approached him, he denied any involvement and said he had just been running and getting some exercise.”

One of the callers remained in the area and was able to positively identify the male and he was arrested.

Dexter Mathis of 30 Falcon Ridge Drive faces one count of public indecency.

“The other callers wanted to remain anonymous and there was only one person who actually stayed on the scene and identified him,” Morrison said.

And just when you think you’ve heard it all, criminals come up with a new way of trying to get away without paying what they owe.

The manager of the BP station on Ga. Highway 11 has been targeted twice by individuals who have climbed up on the roof of the establishment to place aluminum foil on their satellite dish in an effort to disable it.

The first incident occurred on Aug. 6 when a black male was seen by the store’s surveillance camera exiting a vehicle behind the store and then climbing a ladder to the roof.

“Then he and three other individuals came into the store to purchase gas, lottery tickets and other food items,” Morrison said. “It was later discovered that the aluminum foil had disabled communications from the satellite to the credit card company and the transaction went through on a stolen credit card.

Sunday around 12:30 the ploy was tried again and the manager reported he had seen someone else go up on his roof and put aluminum foil over his satellite.

“After that, the vehicle pulled up to the gas pumps and the suspect attempted to use his credit card, but this time the transaction did not go through,” Morrison said.

When the manager asked for details of the card, the suspect took the card back from him and fled the store, Morrison said.

“The suspects must have thought if they disabled the satellite, the card would either go through or the attendant would manually run the card and in that case there would be no way of knowing right then if it was stolen or not,” Morrison said.

All incidents have been recorded on security video and the investigation is ongoing.